Polk React soundbar review: Built-in Alexa for your TV speaker

I have had a voice assistant in my property for the previous handful of a long time and it is hard to know how I ever did with out it. The complete household uses it to change off the lights, question for the weather conditions or, to my horror, pay attention to limitless quantities of Spotify-skewing pop tunes. The Polk React delivers the usefulness of Alexa into a Tv-helpful, soundbar sort. The crucial question is: Do we actually will need a Tv speaker that’s also an assistant? 


  • Amazon Alexa onboard operates very well.
  • Excellent audio high-quality for the value.
  • Smart searching layout

Will not Like

  • Only a single HDMI input
  • Optional sub and surrounds are pricey.

The new React follows up Polk’s primary practically-but-not-officially-an-Echo soundbar, the Polk Command Bar. The React differs from the Command for the reason that it will not consist of the wireless subwoofer — it is just a single bar. The React seems really very good and is equally cozy with films and tunes, and its integration with Alexa is even slicker than in advance of. The result is a very well-rounded deal for your dollars.

But again to that crucial question. Honestly I desire trying to keep my assistant in a separate, focused speaker. Check with Alexa a question on a hybrid gadget like the React and the audio grinds to a halt when the assistant does your bidding. That can be frustrating, especially when you have to interrupt your The Nevers session to question a linked question.

Then all over again, you may possibly desire an all-in-a single answer, in unique if you really don’t currently have an Alexa speaker in your living place. And the React is a greater value than the $400 Sonos Beam, yet another Alexa-driven soundbar, despite the fact that it lacks Sonos’ multiroom chops. At the time of publication the React is readily available for $200, and if you want to make improvements to the audio you can include an optional sub ($180) and/or the SR2 surrounds ($180), providing a awesome upgrade path for the foreseeable future.

What is in the box?

The Polk Command Bar lacked the stylishness of the Sonos Beam, but the React smooths out the awkwardness with touches like its smooth, woolen grill. The distinct central ring section remains — with volume, action and on/off buttons set in a circle that appears to be like like the best of an aged-college Echo — but the activity gentle is now an illuminated bar across the entrance edge. 

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The bar by itself measures two.two inches high, four.76 inches deep and 34 inches huge. The soundbar is wall-mountable by way of keyhole keyhole mounts on the again. The audio section is made up of two midrange motorists, two tweeters and two passive radiators beneath for extra bass.

Inputs run to a single HDMI (ARC) output, an optical input for Tv audio, Bluetooth, and a USB that’s strictly for firmware updates. I do wish it had the Polk Command Bar’s second HDMI port, which is a boon for end users with multiple products. The device also presents Wi-Fi connectivity, nevertheless not Ethernet, for connecting the voice assistant to the Internet. 


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The React contains Amazon’s Multi-Place Songs compatibility in addition to Spotify Connect, but regrettably no AirPlay or Chromecast created in. I did enjoy that song requests via Alexa can be performed as a result of Tidal by default, nevertheless.


The React can do the job with an optional Sub and/or surround speakers.

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The optional wireless Polk React Sub is hefty, akin to the a single I observed on the JBL Bar two.1 Deep Bass, and it fees a rather penny, as well, at $180. The large sixteen.five-by-8.6-by-thirteen.7-inch box has a 7-inch woofer onboard. 

Meanwhile optional rear speakers occur in focused Remaining and Ideal versions and feature 10-foot prolonged electric power cables. The speakers, shaped vaguely like a glasses case, are concluded in grey marle and evaluate about 8 inches prolonged by four inches square.

For a reasonably reasonably priced soundbar, the remote control is rather thorough. It is chunky but in a useful way and it presents a good deal of control capabilities — even for the concentrations of the rears and the sub. These latter controls could also be seen as a not-so-refined upsell attempt.

Interacting with Alexa


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In the time since the introduction of voice assistant-enabled soundbars, I have some second thoughts on the technological know-how, as have seemingly many companies. There are two big good reasons. Initially, folks likely currently have a electronic assistant in their living room by now, for the reason that they are moderately low-cost. Next, the audio from the most important speaker “ducks” or mutes anytime you issue a command, which means your present or movie is interrupted. 

All those caveats aside, the Polk React was reasonably painless when it came to issuing commands, listening to my “Alexa” wake phrase even when at the greatest volume. The speaker will not mute absolutely when it ducks, which means you can still kind of listen to what is actually heading on. Queries were rapidly solved and so the interruption wasn’t as fantastic as with other clever soundbars I have tested, these kinds of as the Yamaha YAS-209 or JBL Url Bar.

Polk remote

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If you really don’t want to use the remote you can also use your voice for all of the controls, which include the means to change the sub and rear volumes. In a linked fashion, the only point that irked me during setup was that neither the soundbar nor the subwoofer handbook tell you how to sync the peripherals. With any luck , the business can correct this for its Could launch, but if you’re stuck you will need to press the sync button on the soundbar for four seconds, then the synching device’s for four seconds, and then contact the soundbar’s button rapidly all over again.

A night time on the couch

As with the exceptional sequence of Tv speakers in advance of it, the Polk React is equally at home with films as it is with actively playing tunes. The array of rapidly-changeable audio modes suggests that you can question Alexa on the fly if you want to raise intelligibility (voice volume) or bathe in pseudo-surround audio (movie manner).

Sadly, I did not have the Sonos Beam on hand for immediate comparison, but I did have two subwoofer-significantly less soundbars, the Vizio M21D-H8 ($one hundred fifty) and the JBL Bar five. Multi Beam ($350), that bookend the Polk in value.

I commenced my testing with a single of the most memorable sequences from a superhero movie — up there with Superman flying all-around the globe backwards — which is Wonder Lady heading “around the best” of the Earth War I trenches (1:fourteen:00). Bullets fly as our hero strides confidently as a result of the mud in advance of bracing herself with the enable of her protect for a machine gun assault. The scene introduced me chills.

The Polk was in a position to seize the movie’s epic sweep, the soundtrack swelled and bullets zinged, but I did overlook some of the oomph and immersiveness a bigger technique could deliver. In comparison, the Vizio wasn’t as crystal clear and failed to have as significantly bass. It just felt a little underpowered for this scene, even with the oft-reliable DTS Virtual:X processing utilized.

But it was the JBL Bar five. which sounded the most majestic in this exam. With the JBL’s Smart Manner turned on, dialogue was still crystal clear but bullets whizzed all-around the room in a way that they failed to with the other two bars. There was also a good deal of bottom finish for the shells that exploded all-around our buddies as they approached the German line.

With this and other product I found that the Polk supplied the ideal compromise of sounding comprehensive for a reasonable sum, but the JBL was the greater home cinema speaker. It’s possible it could be value the extra $100 for movie watching, but not if you want to pay attention to tunes.

Like other Polk’s in advance of it, the React is in a position to faucet out a tune really convincingly. Nick Cave’s Pink Ideal Hand sounded pure and balanced on the Polk at each individual volume degree. Although the JBL can go significantly louder than the Polk, its musical general performance came with sonic artifacts. The bass line commenced to distort and turn out to be synth-like further than only halfway up the dial.

When I extra the optional sub and rears the Polk was at its ideal, as you would expect from a technique that now fees $650. The advantages of the sub and rears could be felt whichever type of product I was listening to, from time to time in surprising methods. For illustration, Useless Can Dance’s Yulunga Spirit Dancer, especially in Motion picture manner, was as pleasing as ever — the globe-tunes-tinged tune sounded enormous, and it was hard to believe it was coming from a soundbar technique.

Must you purchase it?

With the Polk React the producer has given end users a crystal clear upgrade path, a rarity in this category, by supplying the optional sub and surrounds. If you have to pick among the two it is a difficult get in touch with. If you largely check out Tv sports activities or dramas, then the surrounds will make the most variation as they give the listener the greatest perception of immersion. On the other hand if you like your tunes loud or your action films explodey, then it is the sub you must get. 

With no the optional speakers, the Polk React presents exceptional sonics for a single bar with a smattering of fantastic attributes for the dollars. For folks who want a hybrid Alexa speaker, it is yet another fulfilling technique that life up to the clever soundbar legacy made by the primary Polk Command Bar.